Treasures from the Trunk: Resurrecting Dead Stories

Crossposted to Pegasus Pulp.

One of the best things about going indie is that it has made writing a lot more fun again, because it means that I am not constantly worrying about whether there is a market for any given story or nascent idea. For now I am my own market.

In the past few weeks, I have also started digging through my computer as well as old USB sticks, zip discs and other storage media for trunked or abandoned stories to see if there’s anything that’s salvageable. Since I started writing seriously in 1992, there’s a lot of material to uncover. Of course, the first few years are mostly crap that is only salvageable with some very heavy rewrites, if at all.

However, among more recent files I have come across several abandoned stories (and even some complete ones I had forgotten about) that actually do have potential. I have found plenty of half finished spicy historicals, since those were an almost guaranteed sale back in the day, so I wrote down every half-baked idea I had. And since spicy historicals still do really well for me, there’s a lot there that’s salvageable. However, I also found other stuff. I found the beginnings of a Harlequin Presents type romance – in space. I found a contemporary sheikh romance (whatever possessed me to try writing a sheikh romance?). I found three incomplete Silencer adventures. I found the beginnings of two rather intriguing epic fantasy stories. I found a story about vampires in 1920s Hollywood. I found three incomplete space operas, old-fashioned tales of space pirates, smugglers, humanoid robots and derring do in outer space. I found slightly more serious science fiction pieces – well, serious in the way that Astounding Science Fiction was serious in the 1950s. I found about 14000 words featuring Zane Smith and Shoushan Kariyan from The Other Side of the Curtain visiting an archaeological dig in mid 1960s Lebanon (no, I have no idea where that came from). I found the beginning of yet another pirate story. I found two crackling adventure stories in the style of the aviation pulps, probably because I wondered how on Earth anybody could fill several years’ worth of magazine runs with stories about airplanes. I found my first attempt at writing a western, long before Outlaw Love. I found a story that had the c-word (the one that rhymes with “hunt”) in the very first line. I found an idea that must have intrigued me so much that I started writing it twice.

In short, those discs and folders of long abandoned stories turned out to be a veritable treasure trove of ideas. Were all of the half-finished stories I found good? No, of course not. In fact, some had me shaking my head wondering whether I had written that under the influence of heavy medication. Will all of them see the light of day eventually? Most probably not. Sometimes, stories are abandoned for a reason.

Nonetheless, looking at all of those old stories I saw so much possibility, so many ideas that deserve to be written and published some day. Only two years ago, there was no market for most of those stories, because let’s face it, who would publish a spy novella set at an archaeological dig in Lebanon in the mid 1960s? But indie publishing has made all of those abandoned stories viable again.

And I for one can’t wait to write them.

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